Hear From the Candidates: Dagmar Freitag
Dagmar Freitag is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the chairwoman of the German–U.S. Parliamentary Friendship Group of the Bundestag. She is a candidate in the federal elections to elect members of the 19th Bundestag.
Q: What do you envision for Germany in the next decade and what goals are you setting for the next four years?
Dagmar Freitag: Germany’s current political, social, and economic position is relatively good. In order to maintain this, it will, however, not suffice to continue just with “business as usual.” The demographic development, climate change, migration — all those overarching trends demand new concepts if we want to preserve our living standard, as well as social stability in Germany. It should also remain a major political priority to build and sustain an educational system in which the success of children is not dependent on their parents’ economic background. Personally, I have always understood my mandate as the obligation to transmit my constituency’s requirements to the capital. And, of course, given my re-election, I will also carry forward my commitment to fostering the transatlantic relationship.
Q: Europe has faced many tests over the past couple of years. How do you view Germany's relationship with and role within the EU?
Dagmar Freitag: The European Union has become the main frame of reference for German politics — both for the development of our internal policies and for our external relations. Germany’s role within the EU is viewed with a certain degree of ambivalence: On the one hand, our European partners point to Germany’s economic strength and political leverage from which they derive a special responsibility. On the other hand, taking on a leadership position within Europe will always be difficult, especially for Germany. Currently, the economic crisis in Southern Europe and the migration challenge are complicating European politics even more. Nevertheless, I believe that the EU is a part of the solution to our current challenges. Therefore, Germany should remain a strong proponent of European integration but, of course, also of the necessary reforms within the EU.
Q: Many people, perhaps most notably U.S. President Donald Trump, have expressed skepticism toward the traditional partnership between Europe and the United States. What does the transatlantic relationship mean for you today?
Dagmar Freitag: It is true that the transatlantic partnership has undergone much turmoil during the last couple of months. We have heard that the Europeans should invest more in their own security and that they can no longer rely solely on the United States to provide for it. As much controversy as we might have witnessed about the U.S. commitment to NATO and the Europeans’ willingness to follow through with NATO’s 2 percent goal, I think a certain consensus across the Atlantic has evolved: The transatlantic relationship needs reform — in the form of an emancipation of the European partners. As painful and contested as this process will remain, it is essential that it will be successful. Looking at the future challenges on the global stage, I do not see any alternative to a strong transatlantic partnership — neither for Europe, nor for the United States.
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